i dont think ive missed anything quite like i miss firenze.
i had this growing void in my chest when i arrived to europe... this void that cannot be explained. and day after day, it deflated.
i have never been more thankful in my life to experience what i did in a month

i didnt really say goodbye to florence properly. and the month spent there went by in the blink of an eye.
it was so weird getting in a car last night and going into an american grocery store-- i even said, "so... how does this work?" and couldnt find the produce section...

im still in the mode of greeting people "ciao" e "buona sera" e "come stai?"... i was just getting to the point where i was speaking italian, not spanishamericanitalian... ahh... italia... come back.

i caught the travel bug, BAD. im waiting for the next plane to depart

please let me cook you a nice tuscan dinner, and we will go from there on the stories, the people, and the experiences. i want to share more, live wholly, smile often, and experience all.

as marcello said in the field by santa croce,
"live positive vibrations, always"


ave maria

five of us decided to take the day off in the central to go see more of the tuscan countryside. we rented road bikes (bianchi, the love of my life) even though it was a rough ride of cobblestone getting out of the city. i just wanted to see the outside part of firenze, and the more we didnt recognize anything around us, the better i felt.

this was the best day...

we got about 12 km out of the city and came across maria and her three dogs, who invited shannon, doug and i in her home for water and wanted so much for us to come back for dinner. i had dreams that night that i skipped out on the beach day-trip to cinque terra to see maria and her family... and that's exactly what i did. let me just say that this was the best decision (besides renting the bikes) that ive made this trip.

shannon and i took the bus to grassina and met maria's beautiful daughter, daniella. we picked up another american in daniella's vw van on the way, jumped barbed wire to see a lake and ate the juciest plums that fell off the ground in maria's backyard vinyard... the dinner included family and friends of maria and lasted from 6-11pm in their warm, open home. italians do not rush anything that involves friends, family, and food, and if you are not stuffed by the end of the evening, there is something extremely wrong. we, the strangers who spoke very little italian, were welcomed into maria's home as if we knew her for years.

i have never been this happy in my whole life... this... sure of myself, and this grounded. this blog does no justice to what ive experienced

when i grow up, im going to be maria coppola



Here at Via Venegia where the internet is free and my new friends roam freely, life is molto buene. I'm full on calamari and carbs and am smiling at the neighbor practicing her Italian opera outside our window. Even when it rains, life is beautiful here.

We explored the Duomo Museo today, with its Donatello's Mary Magdelena and remnants of original pieces from the cathedral. Suddenly... something just... sparked. I was trailing off to Darryl Patrick's (er, scuse me, D PATTY's) voice about the saints depicted and the stones sculpted, and BAM! something literally hit me. As I was surrounded by these amazing sculptural forms dating back four hundred years and beyond, I started thinking about the inspirational fuel getting me going as an artist. And then, like this incredible rush, I couldn't stop sketching and planning and writing. I mean, soaking in all this art is very beneficial for budding artists like myself and my peers, but honestly, looking at repeated scenes of The Annunciation does not connect to or inspire my own art work. Like a religious experience, I now know so many pieces I want to do when I come back into the woodshop and darkroom in Texas. I felt like I was going to burst.

I will admit, I was pretty intimidated staring up at Donatello's bronze pulpits in San Lorenzo last week... and a part of me asked, "Am I really up to par to make art... next to THIS?" But today... today my loves... it hit me that I am made for this.


walking the streets

The Arno river at night is one of my favorite spots here in Firenze. The lights permeate and glitter down the water, and I, again, become speechless. I think I am just a river girl at heart... or perhaps an overall water girl. My brother describes one of his most profound life experiences canoing on the river in Arkansas, down this journey of calm waters to rapids, from foggy sunrises to rainy sunsets. To me, this is my canoe trip. The light here is something I don't even think I can touch trying to replicate on a negative. And honestly, my camera actually hasn't been used as much as I thought it would. I think I am just in utter awe with the city and want to see it for what it is rather than snapping shots everywhere and being blinded behind a lens.

Pisa and Lucca were really wonderful. In Pisa, most of us laid in the grass looking up at the famous, leaning Bell Tower. I have decided that laying in the lawns of great locations is one of my absolute favorite things to do... Berlin was really nice in front of the Dom, and the leaning tower definitely makes it up there. Lucca is this old medieval town with not that many tourists (which is so nice compared to Florence), and to-die-for gelato. I, for the first time in my life, had seconds. And the church there, San Fernandino, has been my favorite thus far. It's simplicity doesn't have glittery gold tiles or huge crucifixes to lure you in... and for some reason, I feel more comfortable. The local Saint Zitta resides here, her body still preserved even though she died in the 1200s, and it makes my mind wander into other incredible miracles. There is this wooden panel that I could not walk away from-- it has this metallic finish to some of the figures, and the color is so vivid, I wonder which corner of the earth the pigment is tucked away in. The fact that a very well-made wooden relief has stood time without getting eaten by termites or burned in a fire or chipped even amazed me. I left Lucca feeling satisfied (sugar tooth and all) and incredibly... just... happy.

We finally went in to Angie's Pub last night (for those of you who recommended it, NICE WORK) and met the infamous bartender, Chicco! Just by saying we were friends of Sara and Emily, he immediately took us in as his own. And by that, I mean, handing out free shots and laughing with us at our broken Italian. "COME! No 'como'!" My Spanish gets mixed in all the time, and I surrender to this beautiful language and culture.

I've been trying to take in everything, but it's just so much. Four weeks should be four months, but I have rubbed the bronze hog by Piazza Della Signoira so I will return soon. I miss my dog the most (not going to lie... there are some weiner dogs here with some GIRTH!) but I have so many moments where I pretend many of you are beside me, sharing these incredible moments embedded in my memory.